By Tina Dirmann

BCBSLA Foundation Staff Writer

Last year, we posted a blog about the amazing success of the BREC on the Gueax mobile playground unit. The truck, jam-packed with active toys (footballs, Hula Hoops and jump ropes, to name a few) instantly turned any open field into a bustling playground. We were lucky enough to see the truck in action, as the kids at Ryan Elementary School in Baton Rouge gleefully embraced all the play offered to them, turning a recess period of standing around texting and talking into an action-packed-period-of-play.

And now, we are happy to report that the truck’s wild popularity motivated BREC leaders to use some of our Challenge for a Healthier Louisiana grant funds to create a second mobile playground unit. The truck was officially unveiled yesterday during a ribbon cutting ceremony.

“Of course, we wouldn’t be here today without the encouragement and faith of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana Foundation,” said Forrest Mills, president of the BREC Foundation, during yesterday’s ceremony. “This champion of healthy living believed that change could happen and that innovative collaborations could foster new pathways to the visions expressed by many…across our state.”

Indeed, just since the first truck went into motion (visiting low-income apartment complexes lacking park or playground facilities and rotating visits to local schools), some 32,000 kids and their parents have logged play time. And with the addition of the new truck, that number is expected to double, notes Diane Drake, BREC’s assistant director of evaluation and partnership.

BREC’s Michelet and Drake celebrate the truck unveiling with Pennington Biomedical Research Center’s Elizabeth Gollub (one of our critical Challenge Grant evaluators).

This summer, for example, the trucks will be used to supplement summer camp service, essentially targeting kids who can’t afford to go to summer camp, she said.

That’s an amazing development since, in recent months, the single BREC on the Gueax truck has been unable to keep up with demand. Requests have poured in from schools and community leaders requesting the truck for all kinds of events — school physical fitness days, farmers markets, health fairs, even kid birthday parties and private company affairs.

“In my opinion,” Drake said, “this additional truck gives us that extra outreach.  And for the kids, this isn’t just new playground equipment. It’s building new fitness skills.”

And it’s not just the kids feeling the impact, notes Cheryl Michelet, communications director for BREC: “The parents are out there, too! They get out and play with the kids, so it’s a double impact. That means a lot.”

Initially, Capital Area Pathways Project and Mobile Playground leaders (the Challenge Grant funded wellness initiative created by BREC, the park and recreation department for East Baton Rouge) thought there simply was not enough funding for a second truck. But when it became clear the project had an extra $17,500 in Challenge Grant funding available, the BREC Foundation matched those dollars with an extra $22,000 of its own, making the truck’s $38,000 price tag suddenly doable.

The program was also able to fund two more employees, dubbed recreation educators, to man each truck during visits (to direct new play ideas and actives and offer nutrition education). A slight raise in recreation educator salaries (from $8.50 to $13.50 an hour) has also created more stability in staffing, Drake said.

But will the new truck and staffers be enough to satisfy community demands for this very popular program? Maybe not! Since the new truck was announced, Drake said her office phone has been ringing off the hook, with four or five new requests for service coming in each day.

A community clamoring for more active play opportunities? You gotta love that. Perhaps it’s time to start saving our pennies for BREC on the Gueax III!

For BREC on the Geaux’s schedule, visit the the site. And for a sampling of fun photos of our kids at play, check out the program’s Instagram site:

Currently, the two trucks rotate between five school campuses (Ryan, Buchannan, Claiborne, Merrydale and BRFLAIM) and several local park and apartment complexes.

A sampling of this summer’s schedule is below:

Purple Truck



Day Time Location
Monday 11:00 A.M-12:00 P.M Monte Sano Village

3002 East Mason Ave. BR,LA 70805

12:30 P.M.-1:30 P.M. Zion Terrace Housing

5958 Cadillac St BR,LA 70811

2:00 P.M-3:00 P.M. Monte Sano Park

2727 Greenwell St. BR,LA 70805

3:30 P.M.-4:30 P.M. Kerr Warren Park

4100 Geronimo St. BR,LA 70805

Tuesday 10:00 A.M-12:00 P.M Hartley Vey @Gardere

1702 Gardere Ln BR.LA 70810

12:30 P.M.-1:30 P.M. Hamilton Ave Park

16200 Hamilton Ave. BR,LA 70819

2:00 P.M-3:00 P.M. Red Oaks Park

2100 Greenoaks Dr BR,LA 70815

Wednesday 11:00 A.M-12:00 P.M Roosevelt St. Park

1011 West Roosevelt BR,LA 70802

12:30 P.M.-1:30 P.M. Expressway Park

935 South 11th St. BR,LA 70802

2:00 P.M-3:00 P.M. Duane Street Housing

1701 Duane St. BR,LA 70802

3:30 P.M.-4:30 P.M. Mary Lands Park

802 North 30th St. BR,LA 70802



11:00 A.M-12:00 P.M Avenue F Park

Avenue F Zachary,LA 70791

12:30 P.M.-1:30 P.M. Rollins Rd. Park

5794 Rollins Road Zachary,LA 70791

2:00 P.M-3:00 P.M. Thirty-Ninth Street Park

3451 Thirty-Ninth St. Zachary,LA 70791

3:30 P.M.-4:30 P.M. Reams Road Park

23223 Reams Rd. Zachary,LA 70791

Friday 11:00 A.M-12:00 P.M Evangeline Park

4201 Evangeline St. BR,LA 70805

12:30 P.M.-1:30 P.M. Kelly Terrace Housing

999 Rosenwald Road BR,LA 70807

2:00 P.M-3:00 P.M. Scotland Villa Housing

10666 Scotland Ave. BR,LA 70807

3:30 P.M.-4:30 P.M. Elm Grove Apts

8770 Elm Grove Garden Dr. BR,LA 70807

Gold Truck



Day Time Location
Monday 11:00 A.M-12:00 P.M Clarksdale Housing

801 Swan St. BR,LA 70807

12:30 P.M.-1:30 P.M. Wood Plaza Housing

9990 Avenue J BR,LA 70807

2:00 P.M-3:00 P.M. Mills Ave Park

424 Woodpecker St. BR,LA 70807

3:30 P.M.-4:30 P.M. Hooper Road Park

6261 Guynell Dr. BR,LA 70811

Tuesday 11:00 A.M-12:00 P.M Howell Park

5509 Winbourne Ave BR,LA 70805

12:30 P.M.-1:30 P.M. West Brookstown Park

4500 E. Brookstown Dr. BR,LA 70805

2:00 P.M-3:00 P.M. East Polk St. Park

1700 East Polk St. BR,LA 70802

3:30 P.M.-4:30 P.M. St. Jean Apts

16441 S. Harrells Ferry Rd. BR,LA 70816

Wednesday 11:00 A.M-12:00 P.M Baker Park

4331 Jefferson St. Baker,LA 70714

12:30 P.M.-1:30 P.M. South Magnolia Park

2409 South Magnolia Baker,LA 70714

2:00 P.M-3:00 P.M. 48th Street Park

628 N. 48th Street, Baton Rouge, LA 70802

3:30 P.M.-4:30 P.M. Green Space @ the corner of Harry Drive and North Carrollton Ave.
Thursday 11:00 A.M-12:00 P.M Tom Pete Narin Park

2800 Narin Dr BR,LA 70808

12:30 P.M.-1:30 P.M. Capital Square Housing

700 North 17th Street BR,LA 70802

2:00 P.M-3:00 P.M. Ardenwood Village

1957 North Ardenwood BR,LA 70806

3:30 P.M.-4:30 P.M. Renaissance Apartments

650 North Ardenwood BR,LA 70806